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UnCon 08
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Duke_MendozaOffline
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PostPosted: 11-11-2008 03:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

On lights, cameras and action:

I am photophobic. Flashguns and bright point sources of light have a curious effect on me, involving (a) intense pain to me (b) a curious and irrational desire to retaliate in kind. Nervous types may be reassured that the venom is usually directed at the kit, not the person. Those seeking technical advice on how to capture my Adonis-like features on camera should consult Etienne Gilfillan, who is a kindly soul and understands the system. But apart from that, it is (regardless of medical quirks) distracting to any speaker to have cameras firing while one's talking. (Speakers who don't look at their audience may not notice, of course.)

On persons in the front row of an audience:

Humphrey Lyttleton was once asked why he kept his eyes closed while playing on stage. He answered: "If you could see what I can see from where I'm standing, you'd keep your eyes closed too."

This is what is called a... no, you can work it out for yourselves. Clue: The plural rhymes with "hoax".

On respect for audiences:

A recovering bypass patient suggested that "perhaps a few beers would've loosened up the Hoaxing talk."

Be careful what you wish for. It was no more than a couple of sips of beer that initiated the launch of the first set of projectiles from Rob. Had this spectacular occurred while he was on the stand, this weird discussion about "respeck" would have taken a rather different turn -- so to speak -- perhaps involving the effect of inflation on shampoo and dry-cleaning prices these days.

Now, would anyone like to discuss what Rob and I were trying to get across, or is it more fun to wallow in the warm ponds of amour-propre?
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AnyankaJOffline
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PostPosted: 12-11-2008 15:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sympathise with your photophobia, and actually found the constant flash photography during talks quite irritating, esp during the slide shows. Do flash pics of a PowerPoint presentation even show anything? However, as a former German I am always reluctant to ask for activities to be 'verboten'.

I cannot, unfortunately, engage in a discussion of the Hoax talk, as it ran parallel with Gail Nina Anderson, who is my one Unmissable Speaker.
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GailNinaOffline
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PostPosted: 12-11-2008 22:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

AnyankaJ - I wallow shamelessly in your praise yet share your regret at missing the deadly Hoaxers.
And yes, I too dislike the taking of photos during a talk. There's an obsession now to record everything you watch, which with a live performance of any kind somehow challenges and crushes the immediacy of the transient moment, insisting on pinning it down when it should perhaps be stored only in the memory.(And you remember it better if you pay attention rather than fiddling around with cameras!) From now on I may insist that my audiences should record talks only via the time-honoured medium of the note-book (and using a proper lead pencil!)
Gail-Nina
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gordonrutterOffline
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PostPosted: 12-11-2008 22:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must admit I don't have a problem with people taking pictures during my talks but I admit I did turn the tables on people this year when I took a couple of pictures of the audience from the stage just as I was about to start my talk Smile

Hell it was about photography so it seemed fitting.

Gordon
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Duke_MendozaOffline
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PostPosted: 13-11-2008 03:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

Praps those who speak and don't like being stunned by the fiendish
flashbulbs have all been a bit, and foolishly, recessive in not asking
people nicely to put their cameras away. Or to set them up so that they
don't go flash. If Etienne can do it, can't everyone?

Meanwhile I sympathize with anyone who would prefer to gaze upon
Gail-Nina rather than Rob or me, but Gordon I have to confess

I do like your mushroom
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gordonrutterOffline
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PostPosted: 13-11-2008 07:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Duke_Mendoza wrote:
but Gordon I have to confess

I do like your mushroom


And also in confessional mode I have to admit I found it on the web and merely appropriated it so no act of creativity was involved on my part, it is good though isn't it Smile

Gordon
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GailNinaOffline
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PostPosted: 13-11-2008 15:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good Lord - into what sort of "boys' talk" forum have I innocently wandered?
Gail-Nina
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Anome_Offline
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PostPosted: 13-11-2008 18:47    Post subject: Reply with quote

So speaks the lady with the furry seat warmer.
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GailNinaOffline
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PostPosted: 13-11-2008 22:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup - you got me bang to rights there, guv!
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Duke_MendozaOffline
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PostPosted: 14-11-2008 00:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

And 'sides, what do you expect when a failed roué and one not unknown to
make proposals of an intimate nature in public places should chance to bump
into each other in the shade of a mushroom in cyberspace? I still think it
is a very fine mushroom.

I think I may begin work on a major contribution to post-modern thinking
that starts with the proposition that hoaxing is central to human discourse insofar
as all social intercourse is based on some form of deception. Some of it furry...
some of it just called "post-modernism"... what future is there for a post-
modern vampire? Are vampires hoaxes... I still think hoaxes are really rather
interesting... where inkpot has my gone... That doesn't sound like French...
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 18-11-2008 13:18    Post subject: No moans only praise - thanks FT! Reply with quote

Hi

I'd just like to counter some of the moaning that seems to be detracting from what we, as paying guests, actually got for our money.

This was my 3rd Uncon and I thought the whole weekend was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to expand my horizons once again. Where else would one get to see and partake in these lively discussions for only the cost of a couple of rounds in your average London 'pub'? Technological issues (mikes, powerpoint, sunglasses, etc..) - what should we expect when we're enticing the Cosmic Joker to make an appearance. Not sure why we would expect speakers to have an early night so to be fresh faced for a 10am talk out of 'respect' - I suppose my point is that this was as much an opportunity for them to get together with old friends and chew the fat as for me or any other paying guest.

Well done FT, thanks to all the speakers and thanks to Mr Sutton for making sure that the wild and woolley North of England was so well represented this year. How about holding the thing in the North East next year - the Sage is a lovely venue!

My only complaint? The rain on Saturday night - if Mr C. Joker could sort that out next year, I'd be extremely grateful. Laughing

PS - Duke Mendoza - isn't postmodernism a hoax! Now there's thesis and a half.
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pinkstratusOffline
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PostPosted: 18-11-2008 17:35    Post subject: Re: No moans only praise - thanks FT! Reply with quote

lordshiva wrote:


How about holding the thing in the North East next year - the Sage is a lovely venue!
.


Funny you should say that LordShiva! I have set up a Geordie Fortean group on Facebook which can be found here if the link works: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=43782066013&ref=ts

Please post any comments, photos, links, whatever and hopefully we'll have enough interest to gather in a suitable venue (by which I mean pub!).

I shall be posting my thoughts on UnCon on the facebook group later on tonight but here are a few comments. I thought the best talk of the weekend was by Dr. David Clarke who was lively, engaging and showed a great passion for his work (as well as being a Yorkshire-person so I'm biased, sorry). I would like to thank him on behalf of all forteans for his perseverance in getting the UFO files into the public domain. And I am gutted that I left the University of Sheffield after 3 weeks when I was younger! I don't know what I was thinking *holds head in hands*

Other highlights were the talks by Gail-Nina Anderson and Gordon Rutter who both seem very down to earth and were entertaining as well as knowledgeable about their subjects.

I was disappointed there weren't more books on sale as I like a good rummage. Perhaps Gail-Nina could have her own fortean themed bric-a-brac stall next year judging by some of the slides she showed in her talk.

Smile
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Duke_MendozaOffline
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PostPosted: 18-11-2008 20:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, Lord Shiva bro, I wouldn't say post-modernism is a hoax, but rather a forgery
or a counterfeit, with much the same effect on critical thinking in the humanities
as a plethora of fake money has on a local economy. Actually it may be worse than
that, as I suspect that many who designed and printed this (non)intellectual currency
thought they were working in a real mint. There is a line that can be drawn from
the hoax seen as innocent entertaining pastime through deliberate or malicious
forgery all the way to self-delusion. A theme the circular Mr Irving and I were
working on... tho' it probably didn't come across to the audience for various reasons.

If you want to see fortean post-modernism as self-delusion in full mythic flow, go
visit the Combat Diaries website, where whole chunks of history have not even been
rewritten but magically invented as real, even tho' there is no reality...Oh dear.

The idea of a hoax thesis on hoaxing written in a counterfeit intellectual idiom does
rather appeal. It reminds me of the solemn advice concerning dowsing rods buried in
Irving and Lundberg's The Field Guide (which all forteans should buy, and not just to
help make Mark Pilkington loads of dosh). I am not sure I would have the stamina for
it, tho'.

Thanks for the appreciation -- i say this as an apprentice cosmic joker (barely up to
county standard so far, let alone cosmic), but sincerely...
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TheOriginalChiaOffline
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PostPosted: 19-11-2008 00:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

It looks like my services are needed again.

Duke_Mendoza wrote:
Rob's response to Chia's intervention was a perfectly phrased and timed piece of stagecraft, a gem I shall always treasure.


And I will always regret that I responded to his comment with a polite pointing-out of its flawed logic instead of the verbal smackdown that such logic deserves. I'm too nice of a lady. Also, if that's what passes for brilliant stagecraft in your view, you're a lucky man - you must be easily pleased.

Quote:
Suggesting that he has little grasp of crop circles and picks and chooses his arguments is a bit like suggesting Stephen Hawking should bone up a bit on Boyle's Law for his GCSE. Rob has his own reasons for "admitting anomalies" into the cropfields, and I am not going to risk misrepresenting him by suggesting what they may be here. But he is, as they say, gray in the making of crop formations -- rather more than just moderately well-informed. He is also a master of deep irony and high ambiguity, as befits the several-layered artist he is.


Sorry, but I don't care if he's out every single night vandalizing crops and throwing around iron shavings, et cetera in order to make what you refer to as crop art. That's not forteana, it doesn't mean he's an expert on all formations and it's certainly not relevant to what I'm talking about - complex crop circles with characteristics that cannot have been the result of mechanical flattening.

Quote:
Strictly on my own behalf I can say that Chia's remarks are among the most hilarious I've encountered in anomalistics. Complex crop art is made by people, full point. Learn to live with it. If we'd had the half a day that the material we had to hand could have consumed, the reasons why that is true, and why it's at least as interesting to a fortean as any other interpretation, would have become clear.


I can understand how you'd get confused, seeing as I'm usually a comedy goldmine - just not this time. See, when I come across woolly thinking, I get all serious. We've got a problem here: you claim ultimate certainty about the origins of complex formations, and yet you're supporting (I use the term loosely here) your case with nothing but "I'm right and you should believe me because I know what I'm talking about" assertions. You also imply that Irving is a highly knowledgeable crop circle insider and so if he dismisses scientific evidence, we should be cool with that. Not OK.

Can I ask that you have a look at www.bltresearch.com and share with us how your associates have figured out how to do all this with plank and rope:

- somatic tissue spiralling
- elongated nodes
- non-phototropic, non-gravitropic bent nodes
- expulsion cavities
- bent canola stems and bent-but-not-broken anomalies in other crops where relevant (late-season brittleness, for example)
- long-term growth effects
- equipment failure

You might come back to me and say that Levengood is biased, and he may be. However, while any bias may affect his conclusions about the evidence, I do trust that he hasn't gone so far as to fabricate said evidence, which still leaves us with the question of how notable plant abnormalities could have been caused by hoaxers.

To conclude: you've provided nothing but unsubstantiated claims thus far, so if you've got anything declassified that you can share, and if you can address the above evidence, by all means - enlighten us. Then maybe we can have a more interesting and useful conversation on this subject. You may know plenty that I don't, but if you're not prepared to cite it, then I have no reason to accept your conclusions.

(To anyone reading this who's new to crop circles: light phenomena, formations appearing within very short windows of time and apparitions have also been observed. As ever in paranormal research, eyewitness reports like these aren't gospel but are very much worth a look; they might, with further study, add to our understanding of those circles which remain unexplained.)
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Duke_MendozaOffline
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PostPosted: 19-11-2008 03:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unless I entirely misheard Chia's intervention -- which is not impossible, because the effect of imperfect acoustics goes both ways -- I thought she was referring specifically to the notorious Case of the Iron Filings that were found in the remains of an already harvested crop circle near Cherhil in Wiltshire. Judging from Rob Irving's response, he was under the same impression. She seemed to be claiming that there was scientific evidence that there was something anomalous about the iron deposits. By implication the creation of the formation itself was anomalous, or beyond human power, and BLT's research, experiments, citations and conclusions is the evidence in question.

Chia was, in effect, trying to suggest to the man who made the formation that there was evidence he didn't. Whether or not there is a case for saying other aspects of crop formations are anomalous, this was the one cited and it fell at the first elegantly delivered hurdle. Baffled or thwarted by that, she is now moving some goalposts by issuing challenges about nodes, etc. But let's deal with Cherhil...

First let's clear away some problems of definition. [1] The iron at issue was a powder, not filings. Rob called the particles filings because it was the first shorthand term that came to mind. They seem to have come from an Oxford laboratory via Jim Schnabel. [2] In general I am not interested in trying to define what is forteana and what is not, nor in trying to convince True Believers of my 'skeptical' case: waste of time, although others less committed do, I'm told, find such exchanges both entertaining and enlightening. [3] Fortean studies today ought, I think (and FT's editorial policy seems to support this), to be able to include the effects of apparently anomalous events on their observers. This (and no one else has to join in) is why I'm interested in crop circles. IMO the phenomenon per se isn't really a fortean one, because it can be explained -- it doesn't fit the label 'Damned Data' -- but it does have fortean effects on its spectators.

The research and the assertions made about the iron powder by BLT amounts to a pile of weird science at its worst, tho' it does seem to come down in favour of an unusual natural phenomenon such as a plasma having been responsible for the formation. This isn't an anomaly, or forteana, particularly, just something rare, if it were plausible that that's what happened. Unfortunately BLT's case for same is still junk science (a.k.a. codswallop), and the reasons I say that can be found at www.xstreamscience.org/, where interested readers should click on the button labelled "H-Glaze" and go from there. The Addendum page is particularly rich in revelations about BLT's confusions and self-contradictions. Irving and Lundberg's The Field Guide also has some useful insights into BLT's thinking and methods, as -- now I come to think of it -- does Monty Keen's contribution to UFOs and Ufology by none other than Yrs Trly and Paul Devereux.

Chia offers her new list of alleged anomalies:
- somatic tissue spiralling
- elongated nodes
- non-phototropic, non-gravitropic bent nodes
- expulsion cavities
- bent canola stems and bent-but-not-broken anomalies in other crops where relevant (late-season brittleness, for example)
- long-term growth effects
- equipment failure

I can't address the last item because I'm not familiar with an instance, and I don't know what the first one means. All the others are artefacts of the process of using a plank (and a few other implements) and feet and ropes on crops. BLT have gone to great lengths to find that tool-using humans couldn't have created these effects, but they have gone to the wrong lengths using faulty notions of physics and singular experimental techniques. The straightforward experiment, which as far as I know remains undone, involves making some crop circles themselves and taking before-and-after samples of the crop in flattened and unflattened areas. Preferably in a Wiltshire wheatfield. Such experimenters and researchers should also bear in mind the extreme variability of the English climate, the existence of microclimates even over small acreages, physical differences among crops, and perhaps most critically intra-crop variations of growth. There are many variables involved, and BLT seem naive -- townies, probbly -- in expecting uniformity in untouched crops, let alone in trampled plants. Before-and-after samples ought therefore to be taken across the whole growing season, and to be really thorough the experiment should include surveys of seed and fertilizer distribution patterns and close monitoring of weather patterns in the chosen field. Don't say I don't try to be helpful. The hypothesis that all complex crop formations are manmade includes the prediction that the supposedly anomalous effects listed above will be found in same, in which case BLT's findings would be, to coin a phrase, fooked. Or stooked, anyway.

Circlemaking groups or individuals don't usually identify themselves with particular formations and don't finger other authors either. This is a useful convention and is directly related to their reluctance to suggest how others may interpret their work. I mention this because in consequence it's difficult if not impossible to make proper judgements about particular formations without testimony from the makers. (For instance it was critical to sorting what happened to that iron powder to have Rob Irving's testimony that a light drizzle was falling by the time he completed the Cherhil formation.) I also mention it because I am not a circlemaker and have scarcely any locus standi from which to speak for them. But I do know pseudoscience from actual science. I suggest you address further questions to Rob Irving -- but for Christsake turn your irony filters up high if he comes on, because he's good at that and you seem to have missed it the last time round.
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